USFSP regional chancellor Sophia Wisniewska has been fired after the school learned that she went to Atlanta to ride out Hurricane Irma while allegedly suggesting that she was still at her post in St. Petersburg. USFSP regional chancellor Sophia Wisniewska was cited for her alleged incompetence and “lack of leadership” — a view of System President Judy Genshaft that some on campus contested.
Genshaft indicated that she was led to believe that Wisniewska was still on campus during the emergency. She says that Wisniewska appeared hesitant to order an evacuation of the campus and to close the dormitories. By delaying the decision, Wisniewska was accused by Genshaft of creating “an intolerable safety risk to our students and the USFSP community.”
Wisniewska denies the allegations and says that she pushed early on for a campus closure. However, when Irma turned toward St. Petersbury, Genshaft says that she expected action from Wisniewska. She wrote to her to move to close the campus, but Wisniewska alleged resisted. On September 9th, Genshaft wrote to ask “What is your current status as you settle in for the next couple days?” Late that night Wisniewska responded that “As I walked around the USFSP campus, I heard more birds chirping than students talking” and said she that had talked to a student studying for a test. After recounting how she peeked into a campus bar, she said “All quiet before the storm.” The next morning Wisniewska wrote again to report on the status of the campus. She then wrote “Stay safe. P.S. Last night, I arrived in Atlanta, where I will stay for the next two days.” That led to the chief of staff asking “Are you in St. Pete?”
Wisniewska is suggesting that it was Genshaft who waffled on closure that that she kept in close contact with campus by teleconference and later chartered a private plane to return .
Faculty and students appear to hold Wisniewska in high regard and there does not appear to have been a hue and cry for termination. She — and her supporters — contest that she failed in any respect during the hurricane and merely followed the general advice of the government to evacuate the area.